After 6 months of map studying and countless hours and kilometres of recce’s, I finally made it to the white arch of Donard car park with 20 minutes to go before I was to set off. I’d chosen this date a couple of months ago based on moonlight and personal commitments, and fortunately for me the weather was due to stay clear and mild for most of the next 24 hours. I was running solo and unsupported, meaning that whatever was in my backpack at the start was all I had for the entire challenge. So before leaving Dublin I had checked and rechecked my kit and supplies, and had the pack ready to go on my shoulders before getting into the car. On arriving in Newcastle I got changed and ready, and took a short walk with my brother Gerard. During the walk I realised how mild it actually was, so after a bit of second guessing, and with 2 minutes to go I stuffed my long sleeve into my backpack and put on a short sleeve cycling tee and ran to the arch. After a quick photo and countdown I headed off, and as soon as I entered Donard Forest I was glad I’d swapped top, as it was really warm.
It’s the early hours of the morning, it’s raining heavily. At the entrance to Donard Park people can be seen struggling to stay on their feet. They seem to be neither co-ordinated nor aware of their surroundings, they are not even dressed appropriately for the conditions that we have been met with over the last few hours, and which seem set to continue for the foreseeable future. This however is not a collection of Rankin Round runners, thankfully instead it is just another weekend for the young people of Northern Ireland. Granted they have been doing their own rounds, however it would seem their priorities are entirely different to my own this evening. Continue reading